CAUTION! This article contains many Scriptures which will likely require you to reconsider what you may have believed the Bible says about marriage, divorce, adultery, sexual conduct and related matters. If you are not completely committed to placing the written Word of Elohim above all other sources of information, it is highly recommended that you NOT continue reading this article.
The polygynous pattern is found throughout Scripture, whether talking about the husband (head of the household) and the wives, or Messiah (the head of the assembly) and the body of Messiah (also referred to in Scripture as the bride of Messiah). Symbolically, when Messiah comes for His bride, does it mirror a monogynous (one to one) or a polygynous (one to many) relationship?
Messiah is also referred to in Scripture as the Lion of Judah. He is also known as the Passover Lamb. But whatever term is used, you'll find a parallel to polygynous creatures. A pride of lions is formed by one male lion, several female lions and their cubs. The males will fight one another for possession of the pride, but only one of them gets the females. Lions are highly polygynous and sociable, with the females harmoniously grooming one another as part of their social activities and suckling one another's cubs. A male lamb, when mature, becomes a ram. Rams also compete for the flock. The winner gets the ewes.
In Matthew chapter 10, Yahushua said, "See, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves". Wolves are always referred to in Scripture as depicting evil, and wolves are fiercely monogynous and highly exclusive. The dominant male and female will not allow the other wolves to mate.
The reason that we in the West have such a hard time accepting what the Scriptures clearly say on this matter has to do with the nature of Roman and Greek thinking in relation to marriage. The culture of Western Civilization teaches us to live in a state of "serial monogamy", where a person, male or female, can marry, divorce and then remarry as many times as desired. The offshoot of this type of thinking is, of course, anti-marriage. Having more than one wife is simply not acceptable in Western Civilization, but fornication, divorce, adultery, promiscuity, sodomy, pre-marital sex, orgies, mistresses, cohabitation or living together - these things are acceptable, expected, and in many ways, encouraged in our culture.
A major cause of our marital and social decadence is inherent in the pagan Roman and Greek philosophy that there must be only one wife at a time and that she must be exclusive. It's that simple. There can be no other, for she has exclusive possession of her husband, and this exclusive possession of him inherently and subtly gives her the right into almost every aspect of his life.
In the Scriptures, you are either married or unmarried. Although the Bible never gives a definition of marriage, when you assemble all the Scriptures on marriage together, you are left with only one possible definition:
"Biblical marriage is a vow, covenant or agreement, made between one man and one or more women of the covenant, of their own free will, in the presence of two or three witnesses, in which they promise to be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives."  The reason polygyny is so vehemently opposed by so many believers is not, I suspect, because they reject it as Biblical, but because it represents a "clash of cultures". Whatever the West is, it is NOT Hebraic, it is Greek. By gaining a better understanding of Elohim's Word, we find ourselves returning back to our Messianic or Hebraic roots. Once we accept what the Tanak and the Messianic Scriptures say on this subject, instead of what people may think about the subject, we are invariably forced to accept polygyny as a valid form of marriage.
At the start of this series on Polygyny, there was a warning that this information might be quite offensive to some people. If you've made it this far without being terribly offended, this final section will probably do the trick. After considerable Scriptural research on this matter, I had almost decided against breaching this topic at all, primarily because it flies in the face of what so many of us believers have been taught all our lives. In the end, I felt led by the Spirit to speak out against error, even though I will no doubt get flamed and persecuted for speaking this truth. The Bible is the written authority of truth given by Elohim and we need to check everything against that standard. If even a small handful of fellow believers are willing to challenge their preconceived notions and examine this information in the light of Elohim's Word, I praise Yahweh because it will have been well worth it.
Once we clearly understand the Scriptural definition of marriage, some obvious questions arise regarding the acceptable physical intimacy within a polygynous marriage. After all, unless each of the wives are living in separate homes, there is no way that wives in a polygynous marriage can avoid a certain degree of physical intimacy. Depending on their mental-emotional-spiritual makeup, some women are simply more physically affectionate than others towards one another. Before long, questions start to arise as to just where the boundaries lie in the female-female relationship.
Before we look at this issue in detail, I'd like to point out that throughout the Scriptures, male-male sexual relations are repeatedly and consistently forbidden. For some examples, see Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Romans 1:27. There is simply no getting around this obvious fact. Regardless whether someone considers himself "homosexual" or not, the teachings in the Tanak and the Messianic Scriptures are quite explicit. Male-male sexual relations are sinful, no matter how a person attempts to justify or rationalize them based on their "sexual nature". For example, I came across the following statement on a pro-homosexual web site the other day:
"Scripture does not condemn homosexuality or homosexuals. He does condemn homosexual behavior when such behavior is entered into despite the person's heterosexual nature. Never is it even suggested that homosexual behavior is condemned for those whose natures are homosexual."  This is the most unbelievable attempt I've seen to try to justify sinful behavior. The author seems to recognize that Scripture condemns the male-male sexual relations, but only for "heterosexuals", somehow giving "homosexuals" a green light to commit the same sin, since it's not really sinful for them, if you consider their "nature".
To demonstrate just how ridiculous this argument really is, let's pick another sin in place of male-male sexual relations:
"Scripture does not condemn adultery or adulterers. He does condemn adulterous behavior when such behavior is entered into despite the person's faithful nature. Never is it even suggested that adulterous behavior is condemned for those whose natures are adulterous."  Pretty obvious, huh? Let's try this one:
"Scripture does not condemn murdering or murderers. He does condemn murderous behavior when such behavior is entered into despite the person's peaceful nature. Never is it even suggested that murderous behavior is condemned for those whose natures are murderous."  Very believable. Let's just simply call it what it is - sin:
"Scripture does not condemn sinning or sinners. He does condemn sinful behavior when such behavior is entered into despite the person's righteous nature. Never is it even suggested that sinful behavior is condemned for those whose natures are sinful."  I believe this form of argument speaks for itself and there's nothing more that needs to be said. Such a person would likely argue face-to-face with Yahushua Himself debating one's "sexual nature" rather than accepting the Scriptural definition of sin. The law is very clear: if you do it, you sin. Period.
At the same time, I believe that it's important to recognize that these sexual sins are no better and no worse than other sins in Scripture. Believers have an unfortunate tendency to behave as though "homosexuals" are somehow more sinful than adulterers, drunkards, fornicators, robbers or idolaters. We're all sinners and we all need the Grace of Elohim in our lives. Don't think for one minute that just because you personally don't have a particular temptation in your life, you are somehow better than the next guy. Just remember that for every finger you point at them, there's four more pointing back at you!
Having confirmed in Scripture that male-male sexual relations are clearly sinful, I need to point out that through all my searching for such references, I came to one inescapable conclusion: There are NO passages in the entire Bible, neither in the Tanak nor in the Messianic Scriptures, that speaks for or against female-female sexual relations. Before you reach for your Bibles to start quoting Romans 1:26, let's first confirm that there are no such references in the Tanak.
'And do not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.' (Leviticus 18:22, The Scriptures)  All such verses from the Tanak speak only of male-male sexual relations and say nothing about female-female sexual relations. In fact, there are no Scriptures anywhere in the entire Tanak that prohibits sexual acts between women. I found this extremely surprising to say the least, considering I had been taught that such behavior was condemned throughout Scripture.
Talmudic Judaism makes it very clear that male-male sexual relations are condemned and forbidden because of the Torah injunctions, yet no such injunction is found for female-female relations. The Tanak is strangely silent about it. Why does the Torah explicitly prohibit sexual acts between men and not between women? One possible explanation is that male-oriented Israelite society simply did not consider a sexual act to have taken place unless a penis was involved. This may seem ridiculous to our Western way of thinking, but however we slice it, the absence of any reference to women makes it clear that the Torah's language cannot be read as a condemnation of female-female sexual relations.
Please pay careful attention to what I'm saying here and don't read anything into this. I'm certainly not condoning "lesbianism" or some form of fornication between women. I'm simply pointing out that within the Torah, there are no prohibitions against female-female sexual activity as there are for male-male sexual activity.
In the Messianic Scriptures, there are several references that mention same-sex offenders. Let's start by analyzing 1 Corinthians 6:9:
Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the reign of Elohim? Do not be deceived. Neither those who whore [pornos, 4205], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakos, 3120], nor homosexuals [arsenokoites, 733], nor thieves, nor greedy of gain, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the reign of Elohim. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, The Scriptures)  Let's look at the Strong's Concordance to get a better understanding of the definitions of these three Greek words:
The Greek word pornos (Strong's #4205) is essentially the same as porneia (Strong's #4202), which we already know to mean whore or fornicator. This word refers to one who whores or fornicates, whether male or female.4205. pornos, por'-nos; from pernemi (to sell; akin to the base of 4097); a (male) prostitute (as venal), i.e. (by anal.) a debauchee (libertine): -fornicator, whoremonger.
The Greek word malakos (Strong's #3120) literally means "softies" and refers to a boy (catamite) kept for homosexual relations with a man, as well as a male who submits his body to anal sexual relations with a man. This would either be a male prostitute or the receptive male partner in anal sexual intercourse.
The Greek word arsenokoites (Strong's #733) refers to a man who lies with a male as a female. It is sometimes translated as "sodomite" or "homosexual", but the literal translation describes the insertive partner in male-male anal sexual intercourse. Arsenokoites is essentially the flipside of malakos.
1 Corinthians 6:9 clearly prohibits anal sexual intercourse between men, both for the receptive and insertive partner. Of course, it says absolutely nothing at all about female-female sexual relations. Let's turn to 1 Timothy 1:10 next:
knowing this: that Torah is not laid down for a righteous being, but for the lawless and unruly, for the wicked and for sinners, for the wrong-doers and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for those who whore [pornos, 4205], for sodomites [arsenokoites, 733], for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and for whatever else that is contrary to sound teaching (1 Timothy 1:9-10, The Scriptures)  In this passage, we find the same Greek words pornos (Strong's #4205) and arsenokoites (Strong's #733), again referring to those who fornicate and those who engage in male-male anal sexual intercourse. More significantly for this discussion, however, is the distinct lack of a corresponding condemnation for female-female sexual relations.
The final verse we'll be looking at in the Messianic Scriptures that makes reference to same-sex relations is in the Book of Romans. There is a common misconception that Romans 1:26 refers to some form of female-female sexual activity. In fact, this is the only passage anywhere in Scripture that has been suggested to mention female-female relations. Let's see what this Scripture actually says:
Because of this Elohim gave them over to degrading  passions . For even their women exchanged natural  relations  for what is against nature , and likewise, the men also, having left natural  relations  with woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing indecency, and receiving back the reward which was due for their straying. (Romans 1:26-27, The Scriptures)  There are several Greek words that we'll need to examine if we're going to get the complete picture of Romans 1:26-27, but we'll tackle them one by one. Once again, we'll need to look at the Strong's Concordance to get a better understanding of these definitions:
We're going to need to look at a few phrases here in order to get a precise understanding of what Paul is saying. Specifically, we're going to examine three phrases used in these verses: "degrading passions", "natural relations" and "against nature".819. atimia, at-ee-mee'-ah; from 820; infamy, i.e. (subj.) comparative indignity, (obj.) disgrace: -dishonour, reproach, shame, vile.
The Greek word translated in verse 26 as "degrading" is 'atimia' (Strong's #819), which means vile, filthy, dirty, dishonorable and shameful. The adjacent word translated as "passions" is 'pathos' (Strong's #3806), which comes from the Greek word 'patho' (Strong's #3958). It refers to a strong sexual desire (concupiscence) or suffering, possibly related to experiencing a painful sensation. So the phrase "degrading passions" literally means filthy, shameful and suffering sexual lusts.
The Greek word translated as "natural" is 'phusikos' (Strong's #5446), which means instinctively natural; produced by or agreeable to nature. The word translated as "relations" is 'chresis' (Strong's #5540) and literally means sexual intercourse or sexual use. The phrase "natural relations" clearly refers to the only "produced by nature" sexual intercourse, namely, penile-vaginal intercourse.
Finally, the Greek word translated as "nature" is 'phusis' (Strong's #5449), which refers to germinating or growing by natural producing. So the phrase "against nature" means going against the natural method of production or creation, or in context, procreation.
It may seem like a lot of trouble to break these verses down like this, but it is necessary if we're to get the proper understanding of what exactly is being referred to here. Let's look at this modified translation of the same verses, using our amplified definitions where appropriate:
Because of this Elohim gave them over to filthy, shameful, suffering sexual lusts. For even their women exchanged penile-vaginal intercourse for what is against procreation, and likewise, the men also, having left penile-vaginal intercourse with woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing indecency, and receiving back the reward which was due for their straying.  Let's look at this same Scripture using the Amplified Bible:
For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one, and the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another - men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was their fitting retribution. (Romans 1:26-27, The Amplified Bible)  By reading these verses carefully, there are two things which should be immediately apparent. First, there is no direct reference to "women with women" as there is to "men with men", yet many believers have been taught that this single verse condemns female-female sexual relations. And second, the women exchanged natural sexual intercourse for an unnatural sexual intercourse, while the men abandoned sexual relations with women altogether and lusted after one another instead. This distinction is important because it says that while the women "exchanged" ('metallasso', Strong's #3337) natural intercourse for unnatural intercourse, the men "left" ('aphiemi', Strong's #863) sex with women for men.
The Greek word translated as "likewise" is 'homoios' (Strong's #3668) and means similarly, or in the same way. The most straightforward reading of this passage finds that the word "likewise" connects the two references of exchanging of natural intercourse for unnatural intercourse. Men lusting for other men stands on its own, and does not carry back into the reference to women. The passage does not say that women lusted for other women. In each of the other three times that Paul used the Greek word 'homoios' (likewise), all of the conditions of the sentence appear before the word "likewise" and apply to what comes after (1 Corinthians 7:3; 7:4; 7:22). The conditional arrow points in one direction for Paul.
Part of the problem with properly understanding this passage is that interpreters have concentrated their attention on the reference to males with males in verse 27 and treated verse 26 as an extension of the same principle, instead of giving verse 26 the careful attention it deserves. Modern preoccupation about "homosexuality" tends to obscure the obvious reading of this passage. The Bible always focuses on sexual acts and practices, and these Scripture verses were originally understood to refer to a common practice of anal sexual intercourse, not to some kind of sexual "orientation", which is a modern scientific concept. What we have here is a condemnation of anal sexual intercourse in both Romans 1:26 (male-female) and Romans 1:27 (male-male), and the word "likewise" refers to the similarity of the practice, not to the modern concept of homosexual orientation.
The mistaken view that Romans 1:26 refers to female-female sexual relations remains widespread, but it is an interpretation that runs counter to the understanding of the early church leaders of the first four centuries. They understood Romans 1:26 to refer to non-procreative, male-female sexual acts.
Clement of Alexandria (150-215 A.D.) interpreted Romans 1:26 to refer to common heterosexual practices, especially anal intercourse. After quoting Romans 1:26-27, Clement comments: "Yet nature has not caused even the most lewd beasts to have intercourse [mount] in the excrement passageway" and then goes on to condemn "male penetration, barren seed-sowing, anal intercourse [literally "rear bedding"] and unsuitable androgynous coming together" (Paed 2.10.86-87, translated by Miller 1997b; cf. Brooten 320-338).
Anastasios, another early Christian writer, cited in a marginal note to Clement, agrees with Clement that Romans 1:26 does not speak of female-female relations: "Clearly they [the females of Romans 1:26] do not go into one another [fem.] but rather offer themselves to men" (Brooten 1996:337-38; Miller 1997b). Even Augustine (354-430 A.D.) understood Romans 1:26 to refer to certain male-female practices (probably anal intercourse to prevent conception) as "unnatural" (Brooten 353; Miller 1995; 1997ab).
The cases of Clement and Augustine are especially remarkable, since both are clearly on record as opposing female-female eroticism. Yet they did not allow their conviction to distort their interpretation of Romans 1:26, as commonly happens with modern interpreters. The important point to make here is that both early believers and informed modern scholars interpret Romans 1:26 as referring to unnatural male-female practices. Given the complete Scriptural silence on female-female relations throughout Israel's entire history (not a word in the Torah's 613 commands against them), an unprecedented and unique condemnation of all female-female relations cannot be elicited from Paul's sermon illustration.
We have determined that there is no Scriptural condemnation of female-female sexual relations, except perhaps if we expanded the definition of whoring (zanah) to apply regardless of gender. In any event, there are no specific prohibitions as there are for male-male relations. So the question remains as to where the boundaries lie in the female-female relationship within a polygynous marriage.
To be completely honest, I'm not sure I have a Scriptural answer for this one. Elohim's Word does not prohibit a polygynous man from enjoying sex with his wives simultaneously. It is neither condemned nor approved in the Bible, and although I have an opinion on this matter, I believe it's important to stick close to what the Bible says (or doesn't say) in this regard.
Certainly the best way to look at this issue is to clarify what "sin" is. People can debate all day long about whether such-and-such practices are advisable, beneficial, hurtful or dangerous. But when it comes to defining something as "sinful", our opinions cease to matter.
Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4, The Scriptures)  Sin is specifically defined in 1 John 3:4 as "lawlessness", or "transgression of the law". That gives us a clear objective point on which to discuss whether something is sin or not. The Bible lists the various things which in Elohim's eyes are sexually immoral: whoring (zanah), a man uncovering the nakedness of specific family members, a man uncovering the nakedness of a woman during her menses, adultery, a man having anal sexual intercourse with another male, and a man or a woman having sexual intercourse with an animal. Beyond that, the Bible is pretty much quiet.
We are told nothing about sexual conduct within a polygynous marriage. In fact, the only piece of love-making we have in the Scriptures, the Song of Solomon, describes the intimacy of one man and one woman and has traditionally been used as a lover's manual over the centuries. It is my belief that everything one needs to know regarding sexual conduct in a marriage is to be found in that book.
I personally would be unwilling to add restrictions that Elohim did not. We do not require special permission to do something that Elohim did not specifically prohibit while prohibiting a series of other relationships in the same area. He went to extraordinary lengths to cover the various prohibited sexual practices and yet there is no mention anywhere in Scripture regarding female-female intimacy.
It is quite likely that the very reason that Scripture is silent on this issue is due to polygynous marriages. It may simply be that Elohim chose not to place unmanageable restrictions within the marriage bed, such as "You stay on this side", "You face this way", "No moving your arm past this point", etc. I doubt that this was a total non-issue in a population of millions where polygynous marriage was common.
Where the Scriptures do not speak, we must seek personal direction from the Spirit of Elohim. Where we are unsure, we must live by our conscience to some degree while we discover the truth. But I must urge caution to those living within a polygynous marriage relationship today:
However, not all have this knowledge. But some, being aware of the idol, until now eat it as having been offered to an idol, so their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to Elohim, for we are none the better if we eat, nor any worse for not eating. But look to it, lest somehow this right of yours becomes a stumbling-block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's place, shall not his conscience, if he is weak, be built up to eat food offered to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Messiah died, shall perish through your knowledge! Now sinning in this way against the brothers, and wounding their weak conscience, you sin against Messiah. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I am never again going to eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:7-13, The Scriptures)  As followers of Yahushua, we must take special care not to become a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters in Messiah. This is an exceedingly sensitive subject and one that could easily be misunderstood. It should be obvious that a woman doesn't need to be "abnormal" at all for enjoying her beloved sister-wife making love to their common husband. At the same time, we should be reluctant to place specific restrictions that Elohim did not, even for practices which we don't particularly want to engage ourselves. The best advice I could give on this matter is to take the "if it's not prohibited, it is permitted" stance, while at the same time clarifying that if you're in doubt, avoid it altogether.
Messianic believers within Western society have an inbuilt doctrine inherited from the Catholics and Protestants which teaches that sex is somehow "nasty" and "dirty", even between married people. That has largely been overcome, for good and evil, as a result of the 1960's youth rebellion, except now things have swung in the opposite direction where sex has been exalted and blown out of proportion relative to its true place within the human experience. If Biblical Polygyny is going to be successful and find a proper balance, it must excise both of these destructive elements.
This is a very difficult matter for some believers to accept. I myself struggled with this revelation for over a year, studying Scriptures for hours at a time, trying to find evidence to the contrary. But in the end, I had to accept what was written in His Word. There are no Scriptures anywhere in the Bible that indicate polygyny is wrong or sinful, and I can no longer condemn such marriages. In most cases, one-wife marriages will probably continue to be the most common arrangement. No man should be condemned for only having one wife, but neither should we condemn those with multiple wives.
My personal challenge to you is to search through your Bibles at home, research the Scripture references given in the Hebrew and Greek, and find anything that substantiates a condemnation of polygyny. Go through the Torah of Moses. Search the book of Proverbs. Read through the Prophets. Examine the Messianic Scriptures carefully. Check and recheck several times just to be sure. There is no verse of Scripture anywhere in the Bible that ever condemns polygyny as sin, or a work of the flesh, or represents it as being discontinued on account of the New Covenant.
Understanding polygyny and accepting it as a valid and Biblical form of marriage today is very crucial, because it brings healing and knowledge to those who have found themselves divorced by a spouse, as well as giving understanding and wisdom to missionaries who preach the gospel to polygynous families in other countries. How many marriages in other lands have been destroyed because we in the West with our Western culture and arrogant feeling of superiority have gone and demanded that others must divorce all but one wife to be saved?
Please understand my heart in this matter. At the time I am writing this article, I am a 38-year-old man, happily married to a wonderful 27-year-old Godly woman for the past 7 years. She has taught me, by her own example, more about living a Messiah-centered life than I learned in my first 30 years. When I first discovered this information regarding polygyny in Scripture, I was very much against it and needed to ask Yahweh to touch my heart and get my thinking lined up with His. Over time, I began to discern the spiritual implications of polygyny related to the body of Messiah, and of marriage in general. Today I find myself reading Scriptures with a newfound clarity, as though a veil of fog had been lifted from my eyes. If nothing else, I praise Yahweh for giving me the wisdom to understand His Word better.
Although my wife and I have discussed the polygyny matter amongst ourselves and she wouldn't object to such a union, I nevertheless believe it would take an exceptional man and exceptional women to make a polygynous marriage work properly in today's world. It certainly is not for most people with a Western-culture upbringing. Even if I can't see myself in that role, that doesn't mean I can condemn other believers who want to pursue a polygynous marriage for themselves.
No matter how much you may have difficulty in accepting this principle, I urge you to submit to the Word of Elohim alone as the final authority, NOT the teachings of man.
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, "We shall eat our own food and wear our own clothes; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach." In that day the Branch of Yahweh shall be splendid and esteemed. And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for the escaped ones of Yisra'el. (Isaiah 4:1-2, The Scriptures)
"...In essentials we maintain unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love..."
"...In essentials we maintain unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love..."